Last week, I read with much august your article Religion and Libertarianism. As a Jewish convert to the Baha’i Faith, I often feel marginalized by Jews who feel that joining another religion is a form of abandonment. Likewise I feel marginalized by the many members of majority religions I’ve met who view the 6,000,000 Baha’is as irrelevant or wrongly guided.
Though the Baha’i Faith is the second most widespread religion in the world, you can count on us being an overwhelming minority in whichever city, country or geographical area we reside. In many localities Baha’is enjoy religious freedom, though in Iran in particular, repression of the Baha’i Faith is official government policy. Just last month, the authorities once again arrested six members from the national coordinating group for "security reasons," whatever that means.
Minorities are always one step away from being an endangered species. In autocracies, they’re at the whim of whatever dictator is in charge and in democracies they can be voted out of official existence just like two wolves can outvote one sheep on what’s for dinner.
The smallest minority of all is the individual, and he can always be outvoted in groups of three or more. That is why the promulgation of human rights is of the utmost importance in this age, because principally it protects each of us — no matter what our beliefs are — from unnecessary harm and molestation. Your right to life and liberty should never be put to a vote. Sure you might be a Christian, but what if you’re a Christian in Darfur right now? You’d be all for the compulsory acceptance of the Golden Rule at that point.
So Walter Block, I am on your side; I am on the side of humanity that venerates human rights, no matter what humans we are talking about or where they are found. Under the wide tent of libertarianism, a staunch atheist and a devoted Baha’i can come together and point to something and say, "that is not just." I would protect your rights to be an avowed atheist just as I’m sure you’d protect my rights to worship God. We both believe that each human is born with God-given, or in your case, natural, rights.
Though composed of theists and atheists, libertarians are united in our incredible faith. As Paul the Apostle said, "Now faith is the essence of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen." Unlike statists, libertarians have faith that humanity has the ability to find solutions to its problems without the aid of a state-approved plan backed by the threat of coercion. We believe that the people of this world will cooperate peacefully and aid one another voluntarily and generously with a kind and radiant heart if given a chance. We believe that new technologies and scientific discoveries will be made that would improve the entire lot of civilization without the necessity of taxes, regulations, or government programs. Our common belief is that we recognize the dignity and nobility of humankind.
So thank you Walter for your encouraging letter. I am delighted to know that I am your friend, and most assuredly I am yours. My hope is that all believers and non-believers alike will cultivate a level of acceptance that matches yours. It is an utter necessity in a world plagued with the disunifying forces of nationalism, racism, and religious bigotry.
Cordially yours, Todd Steinberg
June 24, 2008